Film director Arnold Schwartzman to be made Honorary Freeman of Margate

Film director Arnold Schwartzman

Oscar winning director Arnold Schwartzman OBE will become an Honorary Freeman of Margate.

The official ceremony is due to take place on Friday 29 September at The Margate School, where he is patron. The title is an honour invested on an individual who is a person of distinction and has rendered eminent service to the town.

Arnold said: “I’m still greatly in shock at the wonderful news which I deem to be more significant to me than all the other accolades that I have been honored to receive over the years.”

As patron of The Margate School since 2014, Arnold presented and endorsed the concept to 100 guests at Turner Contemporary in 2015 and has continued to support TMS ever since.

At the meeting on 17 July it was unanimously agreed that Arnold Schwartzman be awarded the title of ‘Honorary Freeman of Margate’.

Mayor of Margate Cllr Rob Yates said: “Arnold has supported Margate throughout his successful career and has been and remains, an asset to the town. The Charter Trustees are pleased to recognise by the granting of this Honorary title, for his service to the Town of Margate.”

Uwe Derksen (speaking) of The Margate School Photo Maria Gilbert

Uwe Derksen, Director of The Margate School, said: “We are absolutely delighted that Arnold Schwartzman is to become an Honorary Freeman of Margate. Arnold is a long-standing supporter of The Margate School and we are looking forward to hosting the official presentation event on 29 September.”

Born in East London in 1936, Arnold moved to Margate after the Second World War, when he was 9. His parents ran the Majestic Hotel in Cliftonville. Initially he attended Holy Trinity Primary School, moving on to King Ethelbert School in Birchington in 1947.

Arnold Schwartzman with director Steven Spielberg

Following a part as an extra in The Weaker Sex, which was partially filmed in Margate, he became the assistant cinema projectionist at Parade Cinema, now Old Kent Market and enrolled at Thanet School of Art and Crafts in Hawley Square, Margate before attending Canterbury College of Art.

After graduating and a period of national service in Germany and South Korea his professional career took off as a graphic designer in broadcast television, film maker, public speaker and author of art books, including on art deco, taking him first to Manchester and London before arriving in Los Angeles in the late 1970s, where he has since made his home.

He has maintained strong ties with Margate through extended family connections and friends, returning periodically to both his former schools to make presentations about his life and career.

Rob Garratt, headteacher of Holy Trinity and St John Church of England Primary School, said: “As a school in the heart of Margate, we’re always delighted to hear about people who have grown up here and forged successful careers for themselves and then continued to support the town.

“We wish Arnold Schwartzman all the best as a Freeman of Margate and would welcome him if he wanted to come and inspire our children and show them his Oscar. Holy Trinity and St John’s may not be as Arnold would remember it as the school has moved to a new site in St John’s Road. We’d be happy to show him around and show him the fantastic and creative work that our children are producing.”

Oscar winning director Arnold Schwartzman OBE with the T S Eliot mural at Margate station

In 2012 he began to develop the concept for the film ‘Margate Paradiso’ and became Patron of the Margate Clock Tower. The following year he conceived  ‘Margate Rock’  on the terrace of the Turner Contemporary with UCA foundation students.

In 2014 Arnold became patron of The Margate School, followed a year later by presenting and endorsing the concept of TMS at Turner Contemporary, where he also opened an exhibition.

In 2018 he created and installed the TS Eliot mural at Margate Station, with the support of The T.S Eliot Foundation and Margate School. His patronage has continued and he continues to visit, make presentations and to support The Margate School.  His support extends around Margate and includes Cliftonville Cultural Space – Ark – and The Margate Civic Society talks at Walpole Bay Hotel, former Sands Hotel, Turner Contemporary and local schools.

In 1982 he was  appointed the director of design for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and  in 1982 he received an Academy Award, Oscar®, as the producer and director of the Best Documentary Film “Genocide”

In 2013  he was the designer of the U.N. Peace Bell Memorial, Seoul, S.Korea and in 2023 the designer of “Tango” a divider screen mural for the United States Embassy Buenos Aires, Argentina.

In 2002 he was awarded an OBE and conferred the distinction of Royal Designer in 2006.



  1. I bet he’s well chuffed – he can walk hand in hand with Tracey Emin around the town freely 🙂

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